While cleaning out my bedside table recently, I came across a couple of sex toys that had grown dusty from lack of use: a bullet vibrator I received for free that vibrates so hard I had immense difficulty shutting it off; and an off-brand Rabbit that made me feel like I needed to poop whenever I put it inside of me.
As I gathered them up to toss in the trash, a light bulb went off: rather than sacrificing these instruments of pleasure to the Great Pacific Garbage Patch, could I recycle them?
After briefly scanning Google, the outlook seemed bleak. International businesses like Lovehoney in the United Kingdom and Come As You Are in Canada accept (cleaned) used sex toys to recycle, but options here in the U.S. were either sketchy as hell, defunct, or didn't even have a proper address listed. In short, there was no guarantee that your silicone dildo wouldn't just go to some dude who wants to sniff it.
"Unfortunately, the reality of recycling sex toys is that it's not a simple process like recycling a soda can," said Lisa Finn, a sex educator at Babeland. While some sex toy materials like stainless steel and borosilicate glass are recyclable in most facilities, if the toy has a motor, you're shit out of luck. Some e-waste places may accept a motor from a disassembled vibrator, but tearing those suckers apart is a task.
"To my knowledge there is more interest in and aspiration toward recyclable toys than there are actual companies that do recycling," Carol Queen, a sex educator at Good Vibes, told me. "Part of the problem is the sex negativity, squeamishness, and health worries on the part of who can actually do the [e-recycling]."
Drat. So what are you to do if you want to nut and also be sustainable? Some suggestions:
Have a sex toy exchange with an intimate group of your closest friends and lovers.
You can even clean them all together, just to make sure everyone did their due diligence. Queen suggests that this would work best for toys made of solid, non-porous material like metal or glass, or silicone dildos that you can clean in a pot of boiling water, or submersible vibrators that can be wiped down. You should probably avoid sharing toys made of stone or blended silicone. And, when in doubt, throw a condom on that (used) bad boy.
Turn them into art or useful household objects.
I understand that doing a safe-sex toy swap is a big ask and, perhaps, the least appealing solution. But crafts!? Now we're talking. Grab a bottle of gold or neon spray paint and a glue gun, and your old metal anal plug will work perfectly as the knob on a coat rack. Some other ideas: turn your dildo into a shower caddy hanger, a bracelet holder, or a doorstop. If anyone asks questions, just say, "It's art, baby!"
Use it to massage another part of your body.
Just because your junk is bored with it, doesn't mean your overextended shoulder has to follow suit.
Save up for a nice sex toy that will last you awhile and is made of material that won't hurt you or the environment.
Props if the company you're buying from—like Germany-based Fun Factory—is conscious about packaging as well. Finn suggested going rechargeable, as battery-operated toys usually have motors that won't last as long. Plus you're not contributing to battery waste. Steer away from jelly rubber and other cheap materials that contain phthalates, and toward platinum-grade silicone, glass, or stainless steel dildos.
Keep them shoved in the back of your bedside drawer for all eternity.
If it's still there when you die, it can be treated as a family heirloom.